Blondy’s People….Jenny @Bear Face Theatre

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Episode 3 of Blondy’s people is here! Today I am speaking to Jenny Walmsley fromBear Face Theatre. We made a video that you can’t watch HERE, and I can tell you now it may have a little swearing.

Growing up I was not the academic type. Never have been. It’s something I had to work at and still do. But I liked art and performing. My behaviour at school meant I was excluded from things like performances and Art. These were seen as “fun” subjects and once the PRU staff realised I enjoyed such things they were used against me as a punishment., So if I swore at the maths teacher it would be “Well Done, you are not taking part in drama tomorrow”. I was always good at art and performing but I quickly learned that some people would use things you like against you. So, I stopped paying any interest. As I (or Blondy) got older things such as Art and theatre were no longer part of our world. Not only did I grow up before my time, I was also denied many things I enjoyed.

If professionals had used my interest in art and culture to engage me rather than punish me , Blondy’s life may have been very different. There was one teacher, his name was Rob. I think I have told this story before but …. I will tell it again. He was one of my teachers and he clocked that I liked stuff that my peers may not have. One day he said that If I tried hard at my spelling, he would show me something. I guess I was intrigued so I did as he said (Kind of) and he took me to the staff room and closed the curtains. My victim brain kicked in and I jumped up calling him a nonce. He slightly opened the curtain and turned the TV and VCR on. He pressed play and as the film was starting, he explained what it was about. I was just standing there with my arms crossed making it clear I would be leaving. He ignored that and carried on telling me the story of “Schindler’s list”. He pressed fast forward as he spoke, telling me of this man who had saved all these people and then pressed play. It was the scene (If you know the film) where the little girl is in a red coat whilst the rest of the film is black and white, and she hides while the Germans kill everyone around her. Rob explained the importance of this and why they had done it. I found myself sitting on the sofa wand watching. There is a scene later on where you see a pile of bodies being taken to be burnt and there is his one glimpse of red.

He pressed stop and I demanded I keep watching. He said it was a long film but…if I engaged with my spelling each day (Which I hated) he would let me watch half hour of the film. Na I said…the others will take the piss…me coming and watching some black and white film. I think Rob could tell from the way I said it I was looking for him to make a way for me to access this without losing face. So, he said that I had no choice then. That I would receive a half hour detention each day where I would have to catch up on history work. And that work was…. The holocaust. I could go on and on with how that impacted on me in a positive way but what I am saying is…. If others had tapped into Blond that same way things would have been different.

 

And that’s exactly what BareFace theatre do and that is why they are part of Blondy’s people.

If you have been watching the Blondy’s people videos you will know I ask, “Who are you….and what do you do?”

So, Jenny…Who are you and what do you do?

I am the Co-founder and Joint Artistic Director for BearFace Theatre. Based in Hampshire, we work creatively, collaboratively, and proactively to achieve positive growth aimed at all those affected by the CJS. Using the arts as a catalyst to raise the voices of those who feel marginalised and unheard aiming to unify and strengthen community connections. Alongside the day to day running of this successful small-scale CIC, I am an applied theatre practitioner specialising in producing and delivering face to face responsive, co-created participatory arts programmes. Developing and delivering creative interventions that open up dialogue and encourage action shifting towards positive culture change in and around the CJS is my vocation.

 

Working with Hants & IOW CRC Women’s Centres, HMP/YOI Winchester, HMP Send PIPE unit, Various external agencies, Staff & families. Other experience: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama: MA Applied Theatre, Hampshire Cultural Trust (Partnership), The Growth Alliance South (Core Member), Thriving Facilitators (Founding Member).

 

 

Based in Hampshire, BearFace work creatively, collaboratively, and proactively to achieve positive growth aimed at all those affected by the Criminal Justice System. Using the arts as a catalyst to raise the voices of those who feel marginalised and unheard aiming to unify and strengthen community connections. Specialising in producing and delivering face to face responsive, co-created participatory arts programmes. Developing and devising creative interventions that open up dialogue to encourage action, shifting towards personal progression and positive culture change in and around the CJS.

 

The arts empower us to explore creative thinking, experiment with ideas, thoughts and feelings that helps us to better understand our worlds. BearFace specialise in creating environments where insight, empathy and compassion can evolve. The work is CJS focussed and will continue to build on and grow from our established community relationships. Embracing common themes and stories that unite us will be more significant than ever. In creating an environment that fosters a strong sense of belonging we can begin to tackle loneliness and increase physical and mental wellbeing. We will continue to create opportunities to platform and share work to highlight creative expression opening dialogue within local communities.

 

Working responsively with groups using a multi arts approach, we have been developing a strong digital aspect to our work over the last few years. The use of these creative multimedia practices helps to sustain the impact of the art and increase the levels to which the messages can be seen and heard.

 

Advocating for arts in the CJS as essential, we will harness the catalytic power of participatory arts to support community cohesion and culture change. Inclusive for all those affected by the CJS, service users, staff, families, and the wider society, exploring and creating innovative communication channels. Through the use of arts and culture BearFace aim to break down social barriers encouraging stronger community ties.

 

Finally, Jenny has been kind enough to provide us with some poems that have been created in the groups Bare Face Theatre are working with. They are…. well…I will let you read…

JOY

 I want to be a better dad

To help those in my path

I want to be fulfilled

 I want all the cake…the metaphorical cake

To be understood…for people to hear me

 I WANT PEOPLE TO HEAR ME

 I want to not want what I want

Not want what I want

 I don’t want to want

 I want to be in a better place

 On a beach…alone

 Peace of mind & happiness

 I want to not need or want more than I’ve got

 I want to be free

I want perpetual joy

Joy…I want joy

 Joy is love for one another

It’s waking up each morning

It’s waking up each morning without the drama

Walking down the stairs at Xmas with your kids begging to open their presents

Joy…it’s in the desire for something

 New friends who I can sign with

 It’s no arguments

Joy is freedom, freedom of expression

It’s my son asking, “when you coming home?”

 Knowing that he’s never alone

Joy is when my head feels clear & looking up is easy

 Joy is always my mum, always my family

 When I’m man of the house

It’s the way someone looks at you

When they appreciate your company

Joy is Laughing

Loving

 Laughing & loving

 And believing it

 It’s also a high welfare cheese burger,

A chocolate milkshake & chips!

 

written by the CRC Women’s Centre Basingstoke

I want to ditch the mask I wear sometimes

I want my dog back

I want continuity

My face is misleading, because the corners of my mouth turn

down

I want to be free

Calm and free

And I want a new sewing machine

I want to be in a better place

I want a better place soon

My face is my face, see me

I want a relationship with my son when he comes home

I am creased and happy

What I want is achievable

What I want is achievable

What I want is achievable

What I want is achievable

I want to be heard when I speak

I want to be seen as I would like to

I want to be happy

My face is a canvas

I want to jump out of a plane into an ocean

I want to be ordinary

I want to be extra ordinary

My voice, my truth, my heart and soul

Not to be heard, but to be listened too

Justice, freedom … and relax

ritten by the CRC Women’s Centre Basingstoke

I want to ditch the mask I wear sometimes

I want my dog back

I want continuity

My face is misleading, because the corners of my mouth turn

down

I want to be free

Calm and free

And I want a new sewing machine

I want to be in a better place

I want a better place soon

My face is my face, see me

I want a relationship with my son when he comes home

I am creased and happy

What I want is achievable

What I want is achievable

What I want is achievable

What I want is achievable

I want to be heard when I speak

I want to be seen as I would like to

I want to be happy

My face is a canvas

I want to jump out of a plane into an ocean

I want to be ordinary

I want to be extra ordinary

My voice, my truth, my heart and soul

Not to be heard, but to be listened too

Justice, freedom … and relax

 

You can watch our video HERE

You can follow BareFace Theatre HERE

Check out the BareFace website Here 

 

 

 

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